EAL Case Study: A South African School
A little school with a big heart
This cosy little school, situated in the picturesque village of Somerset West in the Helderberg* region of South Africa, started in 2006. The aim was to provide a nurturing, small class environment to children who battle with barriers to learning. Currently there are 105 Afrikaans and English children between the ages of 5 and 14 in the school.
Vergezicht is a Dutch word meaning “vista” and the school’s logo (ink well and quill) carries the message of learning and teaching. The motto is easy enough for the smallest child to read:
Learning barriers include:
- Language difficulties
- Slight vision and hearing impairments
- Reading and writing difficulties
The children follow the same curriculum as in the state schools, but with a remedial slant.
Vergezicht and Nessy
In 2014, Nokkie Hartman*, one of the directors, met John Dorman at the BDA’s International Dyslexia Conference in Guildford, UK.
Nokkie was impressed with Nessy right from the start and when visiting John in Bristol, he suggested that Vergezicht School becomes the pilot school for Nessy in South Africa.
*Nokkie is a remedial therapist specializing in children who battle with Afrikaans and English reading.
Introducing Nessy to South Africa
In 2014, Vergezicht hosted a Dyslexia Information Day which was attended by about 500 people.
Nessy was introduced and people started talking about the program. They were asking if it could be used for teaching an additional language and the Vergezicht staff decided to take this on as a challenge!
Teachers in the region started to realize that dyslexia was NOT just about reversing letters, but much much more!
“Thank you so much for a fantastic, informative and entertaining morning. What wonderful and inspirational people you had speaking with such helpful tips. HUGE thanks for the enormous dedication and effort that was taken to put it together and welcome us with such lovely goodies and tea too!”
– Lisa O’Mahony
The Results at Vergezicht
9-year old Afrikaans Vergezicht children doing Nessy and experiencing great success in their second language.
Jeniel, our 13-year old Afrikaans student whose English reading age improved from 11 years to 13 years in just one year of being a Nessy user.
He finished primary school and now, in 2017, is a confident high school pupil!
Jacob speaks Shangaan with his mom, Portuguese and French with his dad, and is taught through medium English. With the help of Nessy he is progressing successfully through primary school and will enter high school in 2018!
“For both of us English is our 2nd Language. “Ons hou BAIE van Nessy!”
(We really like Nessy!)
– Rebeca & Karli
Kids love Nessy!
Since 2015 EVERY child in the school has been doing Nessy at least once a week. They were encouraged to log in at home, and they fought for computer places to play during break times or early in the morning before school.
The children of Vergezicht were hooked on Nessy!They all took part in painting banners to express their enthusiasm.
“I love Nessy because it is so much fun. I like playing Nessy because I am learning AND having fun.”
To see a full breakdown of Nessy and Vergezicht’s partnership, click here.